Tag Archives: soul healing

When It’s the New Year but You Still Feel Like the Same Old You

My new man and I started seeing each other toward the end of August, and it very quickly became an exclusive, meet-my-family, let’s-do-every-single-thing-together kind of a relationship.

I was exhausted almost immediately. Whenever his truck would pull up, an hour early, just because he wanted to be with me, I would be filled with a mixture of frustration that I wasn’t getting anything done, and the heady thrill of seeing him walk towards me, blue eyes glinting, and those arms of his, ahhh, those biceps.

“What are you doing here??” I would greet him.

“What I keep hearing you say,” he would tell me, “Is that you need more sleep and you need more alone time. Is there any room for me in this relationship at all?”

It was one of those kidding/not kidding kinds of moments. I may not have even responded.

Because for years I’ve been ignoring this rampant desire to be alone in a cabin in the woods, with no one else for miles around.

But I also want an amazing lover in my life.

So I kept trying to bargain with myself.

I’ll spend time with him … at his rural house, where the coyotes howl in the hills at night, and four foot snakes have been known to slither from the ceiling.

I’ll ride in his pick-up truck, and jog the county highway at dusk.

That’ll have to be good enough.

But it wasn’t.

Something inside of me was angry. Every time a friend invited me over for dinner, or my brother and his girlfriend showed up to visit a day early, I would think, “Can’t I just be left the fuck alone already??”

That’s how I entered New Year’s week. Full of a seething bitterness.

But I came out calm.

If you’re in a place of maelstrom in your life, I want you to read this.

Because there is a very tender, very forgiving, very socially unacceptable solution. It’s free and available to you right here and now.

If you don’t take it, you remain in the unhappy, unfulfilled, bitterness brew I was just describing. Life gets more and more stale. Negative thoughts crowd your brain. You start to hate more things, including yourself.

But if you do this thing – this radical, rule-breaking thing I’m going to tell you about  – then everything changes.

That house in the woods, all alone, no visitors, no commitments? This week I finally did it.

I took myself out to a house in the country for the week around New Year’s. Just me, two dogs, a cat, and the wide open, snowy countryside.

I told everyone I was going on a writers retreat but I didn’t actually do any writing.

Because as soon as I got there I got swarmed by all these old emotions – my past came back to haunt me.

I was beset by questions like:

Why the hell would 2017 be any different than any other year? I’m still the old me, I can feel it in my very cells!

How can I possibly have a relationship with the new man in my life that’s free of old lovers and past hopes & dreams, given how drowning in the past I feel around love and sex and all that intimate stuff??

And what about career? I’ve been working on this work-life thing for so long, and I’m tired. I am so tired.

Just the thought of the plans I had for the coming year were enough to paralyze me.

So I said no to every single person who wanted a piece of me.

No, you cannot come hang out at the house in the country with me. No, you can’t use the hot tub. No, I’m not bringing the truck in for a service appointment. No, I won’t be at your New Year’s Eve afternoon tea party.

I felt guilty doing it, which isn’t an emotion I feel often (maybe ‘cause I’m so ready to help other people out?? That came up and was good food for thought …). But I cancelled everything anyway.

I walked to the top of the field with the dogs in full dark.

I listened to baby coyotes yip madly in the distance.

I sat in the hot tub with gin on ice every night before bed, and imagined someone silently approaching from behind to slit my throat. I saw the blood run out of my body and felt at peace.

I skied across fields and crunched up dirt roads, dogs bounding around me, clearing my lungs of the cigarette smoking I’ve been doing “socially” these past few months of transition.

I read trashy romance novels. When I ran out of books to read, I panicked. Books are my drug! I need some historical fiction over here! (That was good food for thought, too.) I did without.

I imagined giving up my life coaching practice. Being a writer hidden away from the whole damn world forevermore.

A few days in, and as dusk approached, I felt a chafing in my heart. A rasping, painful sort of feeling, as if an old engine were starting up after lying dead in an abandoned car in an old wood shed behind a burnt down homestead since the 1930s. A drizzle of motor oil seeped into my cracks.

I was suddenly back there, the last time that part of me was activated. Full of hope. Another man then. Another town. Dreams of babies and of a life of dinner parties.

The past. One of my most relentless hauntings.

Giving it all up seemed even harder suddenly, as I remembered. More impossible. Those memories are scratched indelibly into my being. Aren’t they?

Dusk came. For me that’s the time of poems. A poem began to form inside of me.

My past rests against the/bones of my body/an invisible glass city/its foundations buried in flesh/its turrets tangled in sinew.

 I am a sleeping beauty dreaming/relentlessly old dreams/Awaiting the kiss of/a borrowed exhale.

Writing that, I began to feel better. More at home inside myself.

I woke up on Sunday morning and reworked the poem from bed. A flash of fulfillment.

Then I was up and making breakfast and I felt a little lonesome. A little like I wouldn’t mind some company.

No one called. I took the dogs for another walk. Lay on the floor with them, in front of the fire, covered in their fur, and let them lap at me while I scratched their bellies.

The house felt empty. I felt my aloneness not so much all around me, which was an experience I’d been drinking in for days now, but inside of me, all through me, like a new garment my flesh had absorbed and was making part of itself, a reverse cannibalism.

This is me, all alone. Lonesome me. Solitary me. Alone.

A piece of my soul dropped into my body. I hadn’t realized it was missing. I just knew there was a hole somewhere. But this soul-piece? Ah, yes. Recognition. No more hole.

A sort of unexpected wholeness, like a calm entity possessing my usually chaotic inner realm, came over me.

When the phone rang at 9:30pm, my guy calling, I’ve never been more thankful to talk to another person in my life.

I realized that somehow a room had opened up inside of me for him.

By realizing my aloneness, allowing it to inhabit me so incredibly fully, I suddenly had space for him, too. And for friends. I ran errands with my sister all afternoon on Monday and was unusually cheerful.

“Let’s always run errands together!” I said to her. She laughed at me. I’m always trying to run errands alone.

A friend invited me, last minute, over for dinner, I got excited and said yes.

And as I was sweeping the house for my friends’ return, folding linens warm from the dryer, stoking the stove, and taking a final walk up the hill with the dogs, a revelation occurred. A project idea for my work was suddenly born, uninterrupted, complete. And to think that only days earlier I was ready to give it all up.

When all I needed was to heed the call my soul had been sending me. To be alone, in a house in the woods, for a stretch of time.

All those false attempts, those half-way sacrifices on the lauded altar of compromise?  I found out the hard way that they just won’t do.

When my soul calls, I will now answer. That’s my hallowed vow for this new year.

And I invite it to be yours, as well.

 What are you being asked to do?                                                                                                            Where are you being asked to go?

 Where are you denying the call of your soul?                                                                                

And what is the one thing you can do right now, that will crowd out the back-talk inside your mind & forge a new bond of respect, kinship, friendliness, between you and the very soul of you?

Do it now.

And then tell us all about it in the comments below.

When You’re Terrified You’re Not Living Your “Best Life” & What To Do About It (Plus Me Crying In My Car to Adele)

We’ve been seeing the phrase, “live your best life!” thrown around for years now, and if you’re anything like me, a part of you always feels like you and your (perhaps not so best) life are just not measuring up.

In this scenario …

> Magazines that are supposedly meant to uplift, lead to feelings of inadequacy.

> Social media that is supposedly meant to connect us more, leads to debilitating feelings of FOMO (that’s “Fear Of Missing Out” in case you’ve been living under a rock).

In fact, take a moment right now and check in with yourself about what the phrase “live your best life” conjures up for you.

Are you a wealthy goddess-like woman living in a mansion, hosting wondrous retreats for tons of money to adoring followers?

The sexy mother of three, married to a super successful man?

A famous speaker?

A best-selling author? 

Are you living on a tropical island??

And how closely does your current life resemble that … and how do you feel about it?

My “best life” imagery recently was me living in Hawaii, sun-kissed, with satiny hair (this is a fantasy, people, I get to have satiny hair!), going to galas, and feeling amazing all the time.

The specifics of this particular best life fantasy stem from an astrology reading I got a few months ago, where I was told that my best life took place in Hawaii.

(And, by the way, there’s nothing wrong with having the desires I list above! But, figuring out what is your true desire, and what is a false want that’s been sold to you by the “best life” people is what I’m talking about here.)

So, I was all set to go to Hawaii, and then some things in my family life completely blew up and I found myself relocating back to where I grew up, deep in upstate New York, in the exact place this astrologer told me all my old patterns and behaviors were most entrenched, and where my “best life” most definitely was not.

For the summer months I was a happy camper, running around living the country girl life-style I love so much … but then a cold fall set in, and I started to panic that my “best life” was passing me by.

And … how could I even call myself a life coach if I was living in some alternate, faulty life universe – because what is a life coach if not a person who helps you launch your Best Life??

I started to unravel a little bit inside, as this question took hold.

I was walking around with the feeling of, Oh, no, what if I’m doing it all wrong?? starting to build up, and I felt my confidence leaking out, which is not a good feeling when you’re attempting to self-motivate about anything, much less be a life coach.

I questioned everything I was doing.

From the validity of my work – because maybe it wasn’t even working!

To the authenticity of every Facebook post I wrote – because as much as I’d like to be truly authentic and not hide any gruesome, real-life details, I’ve been trained to show the glossier side things, because that’s what our entrepreneurial culture tells us to do, and I’ve studied with the best in the industry.

I spent a couple of days in a wretched state, lying in bed in the middle of the day and sobbing in my car listening to Adele (I usually boycott Adele, due to feeling emotionally exploited by her music, but in the middle of an ugly cry fest, she is just the thing).

After two full days of this, I woke up early and went for a walk down a dirt road. I talked out loud to myself. I asked the hard questions out loud, about whether I could still qualify as a life coach if I’m not living my “best life”.

And then a realization occurred to me.

I’m not simply about living your “best life”.

I’m about living your fullest life.

When I stopped and looked at my life, messy as it was, I saw that I was still living it full-out, even if I wasn’t in a shiny, photo-shoot-like scenario, (and things were kinda hairy, in fact).

But still …

I was feeling everything fully.

I was having deep, full-bodied, completely honest conversations with myself.

I was diving in all the way with my family situation.

I was in the beginning weeks of a brand new romance, and we were having all the big conversations – about intimacy, sexuality, his prison record, my childhood sexual abuse, babies after 40 and 50, marriage.

My life was full.

But was it “best”? I found, once on this train of thought, both that I couldn’t care less, and also, that yes.

My fullest life is my best life.

Yet again the results are in that what your life looks like from the outside has absolutely nothing to do with how it feels on the inside.

As a culture, boy, do we struggle with that one.

And I have found that even some of the most seemingly forward-thinking life coaches and entrepreneurs are still out there toeing the party line that how a thing looks has something to do with how it feels inside of you.

Forget about it. Their rules don’t have to be your rules.

Your fullest life might be messy.

But you’re not pretending.

You’re taking everything on.

You’re friends with your sharpest happiness and the depths of your despair.

You’re not running away any longer.

You’re not buying into somebody else’s rules for how to do your thang.

You’re not afraid of missing out.

You laugh easily.

You feel fulfilled.

You feel free.

Your mouth is full of life.

And you know that whatever craziness life throws your way, you’ll be able to handle it.

So, take another moment right now and check in to see how you feel around the idea of living your fullest life. What images come up for you? How does it feel to live your fullest life?

For the record, I’m still planning on visiting Hawai’i and seeing what happens. But while I’m here, I get to do this full-out. You get to do the same. Wherever you are.

Can you give yourself permission to start right now?

And what are you going to give yourself permission to do fully right now??

I’d love to hear in the comments below.

If  you like what you read here, please pass me along to your friends. Anyone who desires a full life, is a friend of mine!

Me stacking firewood in my full (but not necessarily best) life.
Me stacking firewood in my full (but not necessarily “Best”) life.

Life Lessons from a Country Girl Summer (Decide Shit. And Other Helpful Gems.)

I spent the summer in rural upstate New York, bouncing between unfinished houses, dog-sitting gigs, and camping out in the wilderness. Oh, and sleeping in my car.
I wanted a wild summer, time in nature that would remove the comforting cover of predictable, indoor living, so that I could have a true encounter with myself, and go deeper with some healing on old, stuck places.
It was amazing.
Healing. Riveting. Terrifying. Bottomless. And truly fulfilling. I’m in a totally new place.
And I want to share with you the things I learned that made new transformation and fulfillment and a vaster experience of inner freedom possible. Take it and run!

img_4842A few of the most life-altering things I’ve learned/re-learned this summer:

  • You don’t have to be happy all the time. It’s alright if sometimes you feel not too great. You’re not a failure, you’re a human being.
  • If you cook this morning’s eggs in last night’s hamburger grease you will really, really like breakfast.
  • When you do the absolutely crazy thing that you’ve been wanting to do for a long, long time you will like yourself more.
  • Life can be extraordinarily messy. You’re not a loser because of this. Don’t believe everything you see on social media. Mess is okay, it’s part of living full-out and well.
  • You have friends. People you forgot about love you and will be super excited to see you again. They will invite you into their home and cook you dinner and make you cocktails if you let them. It’s amazing to let in the flood of love.
  • Children are wild creatures and worth spending time around. Even when they pee on the trampoline or cry over rice. You will find them fascinating examples of how to live full-out and embrace being human.
  • You have to decide shit. Life will happen to you, randomly, otherwise. Decide.
  • Fear is looking for an in-road. You are not available. Why not? Because fear is NOT REAL. Stop pretending like it is.
  • Shame is not real either. Your objects do not quantify you. You are an immortal essence. Live like it.
  • You have something staggeringly beautiful and singular about you. Let it out to play.

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If you like what you read here, pass me along to all your friends! And if you’re not already subscribed, please join me. I’ll gift you some amazing healing tools, and you’ll get all the insider tips and offers that my inner circle members enjoy.

Encountering Myself, Alone in the Woods at Night (Or, How to Find Your Freedom By Embracing Your Dark Side)

I’ve come to the woods to force a confrontation with myself. With those parts of me that are pulling me down, the dark undertow of my being. Keeping me from striding forward, sure of myself and my place in the world. Stopping me from finishing projects and launching my dreams.

Rainbow + Cemetery. Gathering courage to enter the woods at dusk.
Rainbow + Cemetery. Gathering my courage to enter the woods at dusk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They’re a dissonant medley of complaints lodged in my cells by older versions of myself. Tracks of pain and doubt, hammered into my DNA by my ancestors’ lives of loss and lack. Stories of fear that keep re-telling themselves inside my mind.

I want an encounter. It’s time. We’ve been circling each other for forty years, maybe more. Perhaps for lifetimes.

My intention is to remove the cover from my life. Not to commune anymore with distraction. But to meet myself, with no mediating force between us. No electricity. No late nights. No booze. No movies. No house to clean or organize.

Just me. Alone in the dark, in the quiet of the forest.

Scene of the Crime. A photograph of the inside darkness of my tent at night.
Scene of the Crime. A photograph of the inside darkness of my tent at night.

It unnerves me to even consider it.

Not the alone time in the forest.

The encounter with my innermost self.

I’ve become amazingly adept at avoiding her, despite the years of intense personal growth. There always feels to be a harder threat lurking just beneath the surface. A foundational truth that something is horribly wrong with me, the confronting of which would destroy the illusions that I’ve worked so hard to construct.

Not that I’ve ever actually bought into my illusions.

That would mean having ever once really believed that there’s nothing wrong with me. Nothing to hide. That I’m fine.

But, you see, I know that I am irreparable. Damaged goods. I imagine a man beside me in the tent. I feel filthy at the thought. Not because I am opposed to men or great sex, in fact my body lights up at the very idea. But in my innermost self, I feel unworthy of such. Tainted. Not good enough.

So, no, I have no illusions about it.

It’s just that I also spent years trying to lie my way out of anyone seeing this truth about me, the terrible finality of the fact that there is something wrong with me.

And uncovering what those falsities – the carefree image, the adventurer, the claiming of sexual prowess – have kept safely underground so I can forget what I know – horrifies me.

I started very young with the cover-up.

When I was twelve, I lied about having a boyfriend at sleep-away camp.

I chose to name one of the camp counselors, an older boy named Philippe, whom I had not spoken a single word to, as my summer boyfriend when I returned home.

I staged a photograph with him, and it’s the one picture that didn’t develop, on the whole roll of film. I’m sure the friend who took it just didn’t know what she was doing, but it feels, in retrospect, like God intervened, and wouldn’t allow the lie to take effect.

I wept when I got the film back. I called to where my mom was, at a friend’s house for dinner, sobbing with the unbearable load of knowing that my damage was uncover-up-able. Her friend stayed on the phone with my almost 13 year old self, and asked me why I was so upset that this one photograph hadn’t developed.

“Because no one will believe that he was my boyfriend without the photograph!” I said.

I was so many layers deep inside the delusion, and the grief was coming from a place inside me so rooted in my being, that I couldn’t speak the truth of it aloud – the “truth” being that I believed I was unlovable. That there was something wrong with me, that would keep me from being accepted if anyone ever found out.

I couldn’t even fully acknowledge it to myself.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve had boyfriends, I’ve had lovers, and some of them have been damn fine experiences. But the remains of that old belief still linger, and I don’t want to spend any more time silently wrestling those demons underground. I want to release them into the open, take them on, hear them out, and set them free.

Why is this important? Because all that energy aimed at attempting to keep our darkness buried, could be used for God’s good work. To carry out our soul mission here in this lifetime. To laugh more and be a better person. To actually enjoy life, hey, how ‘bout that??

Because – and here’s the part worth repeating endlessly – none of that awfulness we believe about ourselves is true.

None of it. Not a single solitary second of it. As terribly as you may have acted, and you may have done terrible things, committed crimes against yourself and others, it does not mean that there is something fundamentally wrong with you. Ever.

But we believe it. So we avoid it.

And that’s why I want to invite you – as I invite myself – to have that encounter.

Because I know what the truth is. The real truth.

Underneath all the perceived vileness is your liberated self, who is love.

Living from love looks and feels and yields extremely different results than living from its opposite.

I know all too well what the results are of living from its opposite.

When you’ve got a shadowy aspect of yourself crawling around your inner cellar, it unsettles you. You do terrible things to yourself with food and booze, you sleep with the wrong men and pretend you like it.

At least that’s the way it was for me.

The origin of that misbehavior is one of the things I’ve come into the forest to encounter.

I confronted her last night, as I lay in my tent, the night getting blacker as I lay there, unfiltered, nothing distracting me from my own existence. I felt her rise up inside of me, this black wave of self-disgust, as I let the fleeting thought of a having a man beside me in the tent flicker through my mind.

“Hello, friend,” I said inside myself.

This seemed to surprise her. She took form all of a sudden, a beaten down she-wolf, hunkering low to the ground, full of shame.

I stood over her, taking her in, watching her, feeling her there, feeling her so alive inside of me. I communed with this emotionally wounded she-wolf part of myself, holding her in my acceptance.

As of today, she is welcome here. I won’t deny her any longer.

And in doing so, I sense her beginning to perk up. We’ll spend some good time together, here in the woods at night. We’ll become allies. Friends, even. So she doesn’t feel the need to slink around in my subconscious, hiding out, pulling me down with the ferocity of her claim on me.

No, as of tonight, that harassed, shame-filled part of me is being called into the light of day, accepted as one of the family.

*                                    *                                    *

What shame-filled part of yourself is calling out for your attention today?

Where are you ignoring and denying a whole part of yourself?

Is there an image you can see when you connect to this mystical part of yourself?

Remember, your liberated self speaks to you not only in words, but in the mysterious language of images and colors, the stuff of visions. Trust the mystery.

Tell me all about your darkness and your healing – and any crazy visions or encounters you’ve had — in the comments below!

If you like what you read here, pass me along to all your friends! And if you’re not already subscribed, please join me. I’ll gift you some amazing healing tools, and you’ll get all the insider tips and offers that my inner circle members enjoy.

Why I Posted a Picture of Me Smoking a Cigarette to Facebook (and what it taught me about judgment, integrity, and freedom)

The other day I snapped a selfie to send to a friend in Minnesota, to show her what I was up to, which, at that moment, was drinking a Campari and soda and smoking an American Spirit cigarette. It was Memorial Day weekend, and I was spending time on my family’s property, relaxing, doing yard work, and chilling out with my sister.

I hesitated to post that photo to FB because I knew there would be fallout. But I’m seriously committed to full transparency because I find that there are huge swaths of us (yes, this includes me) who actually buy into the surface layer presentation other people tend to put up on social media. And it’s a bad feeling.

Life is complex.

And if those of us who work in the fields of personal and business development don’t share the whole contradictory, bizarre, messy truth of it all, many bystanders wind up feeling inadequate.

That can look like self-doubt and self-flagellation, and like there must be something wrong with them that they’re still eating sugar/binge watching Netflix/goofing off when they “should be” working.

This is not a good place from whence creative ideas flow. And I want us all to experience more freedom, not less!

We’re all human. It’s a messy existence to take on. There are many hours in the day. Some look better than others!

Recently I posted a pretty picture of some herbal infusions I was brewing, and someone commented, “Do you ever rest??”

Um, yes. In fact, I struggle with an extreme desire to lounge around reading books and nibbling dark chocolate all day. Except when it’s time to drive to the local Dunkin Donuts for espresso. Or time for my evening beer. Seriously.

I love to daydream and do nothing. But I clearly wasn’t sharing all that with the world. That struck me as a problem.

The truth is that running my own business has been a pain in the bazooka since day one. I love talking to my clients because I love exploring the inner depths of our psyches and getting people relief and results. I love reading books and honing new practices, and writing about it all.

But the work of organizing appointments, planning events, and generally showing up at my desk every day? Blech.

Some days are really hard.

The only reason I don’t post about those days, I realized, when I saw my friend’s comment, is that I can be so deep in a funk and trying to make something new happen, that going on social media is just too much effort.

And then, yes, of course, there’s my pride. I want to look good!

But I’m working on not worrying about that, because I see the fallout up close and personal with everyone who confides in me.

That fallout looks like jealousy, hesitation, believing that you’re a mess and that everybody else has it together.

So I’m determined to show the whole, messy, glorious, mysterious, beautiful truth, instead of only the polished, cleaned up, ready-for-public-consumption propaganda that we’re mainly being shown.

And I want to give people the freedom to live their most liberated life.

And I realized that that meant posting a photograph of myself smoking a cigarette, if that was the truth of my weekend.

So I did just that. I also, in my post, said, “ Lambast me if you must for taking a self-satisfied selfie while smoking a cigarette. I had a great time. To find out what you truly love, and to give yourself permission to go after it is the liberated life I want for everybody.”

I was mainly concerned about how obnoxious I looked in the picture.

Me smoking a cigarette and looking smug

I look really smug, don’t I?

It’s not a good picture of me at all. Ergh. To me the cigarette is the least of why I don’t like this picture. I look so self-satisfied. I just published an article about Mastering the Spiritual Art of the Selfie, and this is clearly not what I was talking about.

That was my main reason for not wanting to post this picture. Even though I suspected people would overlook the smugness, and take issue with the cigarette.

So I attempted to preempt them.

And still people lambasted. It was fascinating to watch. The reactivity of some people’s comments was amazing:

“Put the cigarette down. Ughhhhh”

“Hay/pond : yesss. Landscape vista : oooooooooo. Cigarette : !?!?!?!?!”

“I never knew you smoked”

It was like a recoiling action of people who I know love me and have sent me messages recently or invited me to visit them, suddenly filled with this horror that I was turning out to be somebody they needed to corral, change or reprimand. Or question their friendship with.

I also got some totally aligned comments like these ones:

“Country girl badass”

“Naughty but justified!!”

“Love this”

What’s the difference between these two styles of comments? And why does it matter?

The difference is that in the second group (respectively, a former client; a friend from my hometown who has MS and therefore someone you might expect to be super preachy about health; and a grown man who, twenty+ years ago was a teenager in my church’s youth group, which I led) is that they took the time to fully read my post, observe – and take in the whole experience I was broadcasting.

Then they responded from a place of their free self understanding my free self – and, most especially, they understood that if my free self wanted to smoke a cigarette on a holiday as a sensual celebration, well, then, she was entirely free to do so. Without judgment.

That’s what freedom is, really, right? Living in alignment with your free self, entirely outside the confines of any kind of judgment.

The other group saw the cigarette, freaked out and decided it was bad/wrong/unhealthy and hopped right onto their soapbox and told me what they thought was bad/wrong/unhealthy about my choice to smoke a cigarette.

It got me thinking about how these people must talk to themselves inside their own minds.

It got me thinking about all the places they may be robbing themselves of pure pleasure.

It reminded me of all the little and big ways we attempt to control life by controlling the behavior of others or making and adhering to rules, when flexibility is the true name of the game if what you’re after is a fulfilling, truthful, self-expressed life.

Let me also say that if I were an addicted smoker who was hiding from my true emotions behind constant smoking, or using cigarettes as an excuse to leave the family dinner table early to go outside for a smoke, instead of connecting to my family, I would be having a very different conversation about this.

Addiction is an entirely different beast than indulgence.

It can be a fine line, and we each know, deep inside ourselves, when we’re crossing it. In my work, it’s my job to help people notice that line, and take action when necessary. It’s not my job to tell people whether they get to smoke or not.

Or anything else, for that matter.

We do not get to control life. Or other people. Or even ourselves.

We only get to find out who we really are underneath all the rules and judgments that have been getting heaped on us since before we were born.

And then to get the guts together to live life out as that liberated self.

That’s where the real juice is. Living a liberated life is not in adhering to one diet or way of life. It’s about uncovering who you truly are, underneath all the fear and concern about what other people will think and say, and giving permission to yourself (and everybody else, too), to express that.

That’s what true integrity is. Judgment is the opposite of integrity.

The late abbot of the Zen Mountain Monastery, John Daido Loori, could often be found outside the dining hall smoking. Yes, that’s right, the abbot of a Buddhist monastery was a smoker. Well, doesn’t that go against some rules that we might unconsciously hold about how a spiritual leader is “supposed to” behave!

But liberation –  true integrity –  isn’t about adhering to rules.

It’s about getting to know the true you, and inviting every single other person in the entire world to get to know (and express) their true self, too.

I am convinced that this would remove all the pain and fear we’re laboring under.

The pain and fear don’t go away by adhering to rules.

Your pain and fear don’t go away because you make other people adhere to rules.

The free self doesn’t have rules. The free self also doesn’t have pain or fear.

That means that the pain and fear go away when we are willing to look beneath the surface, meet ourselves there, and then do what our free self asks us to do.

That might mean quitting smoking. And then again, it might mean smoking more.


Where are you seeking more freedom of expression? Where are you afraid to show people the real you, for fear of reprisal?

I’d love to hear in the comments below!

And if you like what you read here, please pass along to your friends! My mission is to set the world free, and I’d love to spread the word that it’s possible.